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Positive covid test puts brakes on Oxfordshire ‘car theft conspiracy’ trial


Aug 25, 2022

Covid put the brakes on the trial of an alleged car theft gang member.

Prosecutors had opened the case against Bernie McDonagh, 33, at Oxford Crown Court on Monday – telling jurors that the Coventry man had been found in a stolen VW Golf in May 2019 together with a number of men who have already been convicted of their part in the conspiracy.

The gang was said to have made three raids south from the West Midlands into Oxfordshire to steal high-powered cars in April and early May 2019. Police stopped the car in which McDonagh was found on what the Crown claim was a fourth raid.

The trial had to be paused on Tuesday after McDonagh’s barrister fell ill. Judge Ian Pringle QC told the jury on Wednesday morning that the defence advocate had since given a positive result after taking a coronavirus test.

He said: “What does that mean? It means this; we would have to wait until at least Tuesday of next week before resuming this trial, which I don’t think you would thank me for.”

The judge said it was with a ‘heavy heart’ that he would discharge the 12 jurors from reaching verdicts in the trial.

McDonagh, of Harcourt, Coventry, denies conspiracy to steal. He was remanded into custody ahead of a re-scheduled trial in the autumn.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward